While cruising through social media and casually slamming a 6 pack of Claws, I kept stumbling across videos of filthy scrubs (pretty common), mopeds tearing up a grass track, and a BMX bike not so gracefully launching into a pool. All of this was taking place at the same track we ran our last Vurb Classic back in 2016 at an event called “The Rumble at Oak Ridge.” After seeing the graceful BMX belly-flop, I had to learn more, so I picked up my rolodex in search of someone who knew more about the madness that was going down in the hills of Iowa. Here’s what we learned… 6.5 things from The Rumble!
1. If You Build It They Will Come
A man can dream, but a motocrosser will make his dreams a reality. What was once just another cow pasture is now a piece of motocross paradise. Racers from over 18 states ranging from California to the Carolinas, Minnesota, to Texas came together to shred the Iowa countryside. There were big gates, big names, and big competition at The Rumble.
2. Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks
Remember the days when jumping a quad was big? How about a quintuple? Yes, that means catapulting yourself basically to the moon over an insane 110+ foot mountain range and landing with only about two jumps left in the rhythm section. It wasn’t a feisty youngster who didn’t know the consequences and successfully landed this monstrosity… it was 25+ shredder Jamal Porter from Garner, NC. How big was it? Only about four or five pros were even quading the Race Tech Rhythm where Porter went to the moon multiple times and even made passes doing it.
Besides Porter, guys with experience going off the gate with Tomac and co.—like Jake Loberg, Joe Perron, Brad Deprenger, Brennan Myers, and Nick Jackson, who all intended to go back to their 9-5 jobs on Monday—came to compete for a fat chunk of the over $6000 pro purse paid out. It was pretty even on the weekend between the veterans and the up-and-comers straight from Loretta’s like Izaih Clark, Josh Boaz, and Preston Taylor. The scales may have tipped Sunday when local hotshoe Wade Brommel made the drive all the way back from the Ironman National to chase the purse, but a crash while leading the first Open Pro moto put him out for the weekend. However, we salute you Mr. Brommel, that’s an old school privateer move that we don’t see too often anymore.
3. Festivals Are Way Cooler Than Races
The Rumble wasn’t called an “amateur national” or anything like that. It was branded a Motocross Festival. It was pretty apparent from when you drove through the gates and were handed the massive schedule of events, beyond the racing on the main track, that it was going to be a weekend filled with good times and dirtbikes. It seems you could race about anything with two wheels and a motor there.
Ever seen On Any Sunday where a bunch of bad asses smoking Marlboro’s rolled up in their station wagons to a field, laid out some stakes and had a good ole time racing? The boys at Oak Ridge laid out a grass track on some gnarly elevation on the backside of the property that was utilized for vintage racing, Flyin’ Ryan’s Pullstart Series racing (yes… those mini bikes), and most importantly the World Scootercross Grand Championships. Yep, moped racing because…why not?
Let me be the one to tell you, anywhere that holds a moped race on a track with more off cambers than High Point and Unadilla combined and then encourages take outs will always win me over.
4. The Guy Who Designed Straight Rhythm Was Drunk
Friday night was advertised as “Race Tech Pit Bike Straight Rhythm”; however, when we dropped over the hill to the newly rebuilt pit bike battlegrounds something strange was going on. A long line of jumps, rollers, and even a dragon’s back were laid out in a line—but at the end was a Y shaped berm. Half the course went 180 left while the other half went 180 right.
How’d it work? You race down the rhythm lane, get to the end and slingshot a berm to drag race back the other way to the checkered flag. Nothing too special about that, right? Well, think again because not only did they throw out the “straight” part, but they also threw out the rules and rule book. No silly chalk line you can’t cross and you pick whichever berm you want to take; meaning if you go in second you either slingshot your berm faster or you go with the preferred method of a straight T-bone mid turn using the same berm as the guy in front of you.
Not enough chaos still, the crowd and announcers were modifying the format as it went. Two guys have a good battle? They aren’t done, they are lining up again and again and again until their tongues get in the spokes or the crowd has their fill. AND THEN some knuckleheads start catapulting 110’s and 125 pit bikes off the wall jump that’s the size of a SX triple face over the following roller. Things got mental and we’d 11/10 watch it again. Iowa’s Ronnie Orres took home the Open Pit Bike class win while Ohio’s Steven Mages captured glory in an extremely competitive 12” class.
5. Iowa Knows How to Throw a Party
Beyond the amazing dirt bike track action, The Rumble brought in live music both nights and a bags tournament. The action under the tent looked awfully familiar to any good night at the Loretta Lynn’s beer garden (and trust us, we’ve done our research there), and there were definitely 34 cases of Busch beer consumed during the Shift Holeshot Challenge where Dylan Smith won for the second year in a row. Though the real highlight was the 125cc versus 500cc battle.
However, the real action was with the vet racers/partiers from Iowa in the middle of the pits. Who brings a 3-foot-deep swimming pool to the motocross track and puts tiki torches around it? Clearly Iowa’s Vet A riders do. We can’t confirm nor deny if a wet t-shirt competition actually happened, but we did catch this video of a gentleman named Paul trying out for X Games. With some training (wheels), we think he has a shot.
6. Better Than a Blue Ribbon
Imagine showing up to the racetrack with your mom, dad, and little brother still buying every single part and piece of gear it takes to go racing? Not too tough to imagine right, that’s how most of us mere mortals go racing. Well now imagine leaving the track with free gear from Shift for a year, free suspension from Race Tech, factory engine support from them too, a fresh FMF exhaust, and free Black Diamond MX graphics for a year…oh yea, and you just go to go up to Oakley’s Rolling “O” Store and pick out $750 worth of product to take home for free.
That’s not a dream, well it is to me, but it was reality to Minnesota 85cc shredder Kai Morgan who captured the ShiftMX Factory Fitted Award. And this was just one of the major awards given out at The Rumble. Check out the winners and what they won below—this event might give out awards slightly better than a blue ribbon.
Kai Morgan won the ShiftMX Factory Fitted Award: Factory Sponsorships from Shift, Race Tech, and BDMX. Free FMF Exhaust and $750 shopping spree at Oakley’s Rolling “O” Store
Devin Sullivan won the ShiftMX Style King Award: Full head to toe gear setup from ShiftMX
Cade Groen won the Race Tech Shocking Performance Award: Factory Race Tech Suspension Sponsorship
Jamal Porter won the BDMX Look Good, Ride Good Award: Factory Sponsorship from Black Diamond MX
Brandon Johnson won the FMF Hall of Famer Award: Free FMF Exhaust System
Cohen Chilton won the Oakley Prodigy Award: $750 shopping spree to Oakley’s Rolling “O” Store
Izaih Clark won the Grindstone California Dreamin’ Award: Two weeks free live-in at Grindstone Compound
Ty Lovejoy won the Bell Champion’s Choice Award: Free Bell Helmet
6.5 Grass Roots Moto Kicks Ass and Mattson is King
Wyatt Mattson made the trek all the way from California for The Rumble and he brought a heavy throttle hand with him. After two days of racing, three classes each day, twelve motos total, Mattson left undefeated with a crown on his head (literally) as The King of the Rumble.
I’m not sure what more there is to be said. Bad ass track, sick competition, moped races, pool party, music, old dirt bikes, gnarly hucks, insane awards, and the raddest moto people on the planet all came together to make The Rumble a Motocross Festival I’d never miss.